Like a little heat? Capsaicin is responsible for that yummy spicy flavor of peppers. It’s also responsible for the many medicinal benefits of cayenne pepper. Capsaicin health benefits include the ability to relieve pain, aid in weight loss, manage diabetes, treat psoriasis and reduce cluster headaches. This powerful compound has also been studied for its anti-cancer properties.
So if you like chili peppers and jalapenos and those wonderful spicy foods, take a look at the benefits you’re getting just by chowing down.
Capsaicin Health Benefits
1. May Help Treat Cancer
For starters, research suggests that capsaicin health benefits may include the ability to treat cancer. In a 2006 study, researchers found that capsaicin was able to stop the spread of prostate cancer cells and induce cell death. That’s pretty powerful. Studies have also shown that capsaicin may decrease inflammation caused by the H. pylori bacteria, which can help prevent gastritis as well as gastric cancer. (1, 2)
2. Decreases Frequency of Cluster Headaches
You may not know this, but a cluster headache can be a most painful physical event. Fortunately, capsaicin may relieve pain caused by cluster headaches. For example, one study found that cluster headache sufferers who applied capsaicin cream to the inside of the nostril experienced a decreased frequency of headaches. So if you’ve ever had one, you may want to try this low cost option. (3)
3. Relieves Pain
Again, capsaicin health benefits include the ability to relieve pain. But how? Well, research has shown that capsaicin provides analgesic relief by activating a receptor in the brain that releases a pain-relieving neurotransmitter. And when used in cream form, capsaicin can also treat pain caused by osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia. (4)
4. Treats Psoriasis
Along with topical use for pain, capsaicin health benefits include the ability to treat a variety of skin conditions, including psoriasis. Capsaicin cream works in many ways. For example, this cream reduces inflammation and helps to heal dry, itchy skin. However, on sensitive skin, the cream may cause irritation, such as minor burning and stinging. (5)
5. Aids in Diabetes Management
Eating fiber-rich fruits and veggies certainly helps with blood sugar levels. As such, studies have shown that capsaicin can help manage diabetes. Specifically, consuming capsaicin-containing foods has been proven to improve insulin reactions and blood sugar levels in men and women. Thanks to its ability to relieve pain, capsaicin can also benefit those suffering from diabetic neuropathy. (6)
6. Helps With Weight Loss
Here again, eating whole foods helps with so many conditions, so it’s no surprise that eating capsaicin-rich foods will aid in weight loss. But it goes deeper. Spicy foods that contain capsaicin have been shown to lower body weight by speeding up the metabolism and boosting fat loss. In one study, capsaicin was taken in supplement form with ginger and green tea. Study participants saw significant results in this clinical trial. (7)
Fortunately, foods that contain capsaicin are generally considered safe to consume in moderation. But be cautious. A capsaicin overload may cause nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, and other digestive problems. In some people, capsaicin foods may cause acid reflux. If you frequently experience indigestion after eating spicy foods, it may be best to avoid foods containing capsaicin – at least until you figure out why.
Peppers can also cause digestive issues and inflammation in those who are sensitive to nightshade vegetables. Nightshade foods have the potential to negatively affect those with struggle with food sensitivities, allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, autoimmune disease, or leaky gut syndrome.